Matt Gee’s exhibition ‘Nutri-Artifice’ occupies that fertile territory where art and science meet. A recent graduate of Wimbledon College of Art, Gee’s work gives the impression of someone for whom an alternative career where a lab coat would be the normal dress-code, as opposed to the skinny jeans and buzz-cut of today’s emerging artist, would be a distinct possibility.
The ground floor gallery at 286 contains photographic images and works on paper of which the titles, Moss Microbe, Pollen Microbe etc., lead one to believe that one is observing vastly enlarged microscope views of colourful organisms. With Matt Gee however, seeing is often deceiving and throughout the exhibition diverse materials are exploited to create the illusion of the natural world. Those microbes are actually sculpted objects made of foil and flock, created in a God-like way in Gee’s studio/laboratory.
In the downstairs space, all white and bathed in light, glass shelves support a range of specimens. Some appear to be geodes, split in half to reveal their crystalline interiors but, if one fails to resist the temptation to touch, one soon discovers that what one expects to be a substantial object is almost weightless, composed of polyurethane foam, paint and chemicals. Looking down the price list, the familiar repertoire of C-prints on aluminium supports surrenders to Aluminium, Potassium sulphate, and magnesium, the ingredients of the chemistry class smuggled into the art department. Copper sulphate is used like paint on a series of plywood panels to depict the original series of Rorschach tests – inkblots used to reveal the psychology of the viewer – and various types of acetate have been subjected to the Bunsen burner’s fierce flame to manufacture small sculptural objects that might have been plucked from a volcano.
Gee has recently returned from a residency in Iceland which has clearly been inspirational. The trip is documented in photographic series and 3-D specs must be donned to get the most of the anaglyph prints of rock samples arranged like a cabinet of curiosities.
Nutri-Artifice runs throughout July and August at Gallery 286 with Open Days every Wednesday from 12.00 – 6.00 pm.